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The world of Talaria is a crucible of empires. For Aeons, powerful states have risen to cover vast stretches of land: subjugating, enslaving, and liberating in equal measure. Many of these empires have been lost to history, or they live on in fragments of myths and legends. However, there was one powerful state whose imprint can still be felt: Asturius.   The Empire of Asturius, named after the continent on which it used to sit, still captures the imaginations of the masses across the planet. Though it started as a human kingdom, eventually people of all races were incorporated into nation, the government included scholars from the four corners of the continent, and its influence spread even to the far corners of Akkad. Asturius engaged in trade and war with nations across the globe and the planes in equal measure: spending years increasing its size and power. The hight of imperial power occurred during the second imperial era (2350-3000 IA--Imperial Age), in which the empire achieved technological heights that are undreamed of in the current age. Great flying ships soared the skies, enemy cities were laid waste by massive engines of war spouting gouts of magical energy, and new sources of magic and scholarship were pursued with almost reckless abandon. However, arguably the empire's greatest masterpiece was yet to come. The Asturian arcanists had somehow managed to tap into the magical currents running deep in the planet (some say they were remnants of fallen gods from the Dawn War) and used them to open up gateways across the world and the multiverse. The sages used concentrated areas, or draw points, and syphoned this energy into concentrated focal objects known as gate stones. These stones stabilized the opened gateways, and thus the imperial highway was born. Through this new mode of travel, the Asturian Armies poured over the lands, unifying them into one grand empire. Kingdoms that resisted were crushed and turned into provinces while those that submitted were granted tributary status. For 5,000 years, the empire grew, colonized, prospered. Much like any great empire, its progress did not last.   The expansion of the empire stalled in third imperial era (3000-3500 IA). Many peoples and kingdoms resented the yolk they had to bear, and they resisted the empire. Rebellions started springing up like mushrooms, and they imperial army was having to keep the gateways open for longer than necessary to ensure that the legions could get where they needed to be. Eventually, they started syphoning more energy from the draw points and infusing it into their soldiers. These new arcane troopers became the backbone of the imperial army, and while they were able to create stability, a new problem would soon show itself. Unbeknownst to imperial authorities, the energy they were drawing from the earth was essential to the natural stability of the planet, and it was not infinite. It tapped into the arcane weave of the universe, and the more energy they drew, the more unstable the world became. Increasing natural calamities struck the empire. Great tidal waves wracked the coastlines, earthquakes tore cities apart, and diseases unheard of by mortal beings ravaged the peoples of the world. This was enough to sow discord and strife, but the great problem for the empire was the destabilization of the imperial highway. The portals were collapsing, so the empire could keep fewer and fewer open with each passing year. This was the golden opportunity for the ambitious, the greedy, and the righteous. Many took up arms against a weakened empire, and started to carve their own kingdoms and duchies out of the body of a bloated and decaying state. The last great imperial dynasty employed more legions than ever before. The emperors reformed the military system, rationed the magical energy they had left, and thwarted many of the rebellions...for a while. Peace had come again... but it was costly.   In the twilight years of the empire (4000-4475 IA), a tenuous peace reigned. Imperial legions prowled the countryside, and imperial authorities became increasingly paranoid waiting for the next strike to come. The final blow would come from the heart of the empire. Ambitious lords and dissatisfied generals vied for supremacy in the capital, Greater Asturia. The emperor, though not childless, had not designated a successor, and he was dying. He was also a diviner of some modest ability and had foreseen the downfall of the great empire. He saw the fall as inevitable, and so he took steps to ensure that Asturian culture would live on beyond the empire. However, this policy did not sit well with many. Several different warlords rose up with their own personal legions and mercenaries, and a great civil war ensued. Sorely needed armies were recalled from the borderlands to deal with the insurrection, but as they left their posts, the barbarians at the gates poured in. Each battle, whether won by the loyalists or the rebels was a nail in the coffin of the empire. The final nail came when the rebel legions, led by High Lord Hakan Mol, assaulted Greater Asturia. When his legions were almost to the inner city, a calamitous explosion radiated from the imperial center and all but obliterated the capital city and all those inside. While many loyalists, along with the imperial heirs, survived and retreated to the province of Cydonia, the rebel legions claimed victory and established a new empire and line of succession. They could have claimed dominion or everything and it would not have mattered. Without central leadership, the armies fragmented. The empire was torn apart: shattered like a pane of glass struck by a hammer. Each little fragment claimed to be an heir to the empire. Thus, the Asturian Empire ended...and the age of the shattered empire began.